Tagged Whiting Caught in Western Port Bay

Image: Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron (BMYS) member Phil Goodier who fished with Brian Willis and their catch of 30 Whiting including the tagged fish

Written by Brian Willis from Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron (BMYS)

With Phil Goodier on board, we launched from Stony Point and fished Westernport on Tuesday 3rd September. Expectations were not high given it was many months since the last trip to Westernport. However, we had a good day in the end with some nice whiting caught on the rising tide on the Tortoise Head bank area. 

We caught one whiting with a tag in it.  However, we didn’t realise this until we took the fish out of the ice box so there was no opportunity to release it which is preferred once the length of the fish and location has been recorded.

Greg Jenkins, from the University of Melbourne, has recently advised that of the 684 King George whiting that have been tagged in a 3-year movement study funded by your recreational fishing licence fees, 60% have been tagged and released in Port Phillip and 40% in Western Port.

In Port Phillip, 120 whiting were tagged and released in the southern Bellarine from Queenscliff to St Leonards, while 293 were in the Geelong Arm from Clifton Springs to Point Henry.

In Western Port, 36 were tagged and released at Somers, 176 at Tortoise Head and 31 at the Middle Spit.

After passing on the tag information, we were advised that the fish was tagged in the Tortoise Head area in February 2019 and was then 33cms. It was 36.5cms on capture on 3 Sep 2019. We don’t know, of course, if the fish had moved away from the Tortoise Head area after it was first tagged and returned there prior to being caught. I thought the fish was in average condition compared to others we caught. 

Perhaps the swimming performance of a whiting this size is affected by a tag around 5cms long? 

This is the second tagged whiting caught on the boat in Western Port in the past 18 months. With Peter Di Fiore on board, we caught a tagged whiting on the Middle Spit in 2018. We subsequently learnt that this fish had also been tagged and released in the same area some months earlier.

Also, the marks on the tag could not be removed with strong rubbing etc with a wet cloth. I didn’t try anything harsher. I am not sure what these marks indicate.

All these details were passed to the Whiting Tagging Program and we were thanked for our report.

If you catch a King George whiting carrying a yellow tag, please report it to [email protected] or call Greg Jenkins on 03 5258 3686, making sure you’ve recorded the tag number, length, date and location of capture. Ideally, releasing the fish further contributes to the project’s learning opportunities.

Further information on the Whiting Tagging Project can be found at:

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